Mariecar Mendoza

He’s got devil-horn hair, two pounds of eyeliner, and the harshest howl in electronica – but it turns out the scariest thing about The Prodigy’s frontman is his accent.

Keith Flint, along with Liam Howlett (keyboards) and Maxim Reality (vocals), pushed techno dance music into the mainstream pulse in the early ’90s. Their popular singles “Firestarter,” “Breathe,” and “Smack My Bitch Up” established them as the most successful electronica band in their native England, and eventually far beyond. Originally known for their punk politics as much as their incendiary beats – they were living, smashing representatives of the controversial London rave scene, and their explicit videos were often banned from MTV. The Prodigy is celebrating their 15th anniversary with the release of “Their Law – The Singles 1990-2005.” The greatest-hits compilation is, as Pitchfork angelically put it, “All killer, no filler,” and an extensive look back at the band’s globally domineering sound.

The Prodigy is still every bit as explosive today. The Art Beat chatted, via phone, with Flint in London last Friday – and maybe it was the distance, but not everything translated across the pond. The man known for his terrifying stage dominance and angry rasps proved gracious and friendly offstage, but he also had a largely indecipherable Cockney accent that left this reporter baffled. One shaky interview start later (apparently, he didn’t say “I’m on a train” as interpreted, so the first question led to great mutual confusion), we chatted about the British rave scene, new releases and fights with Madonna.

British people rule!

Art Beat: So you’re touring Japan soon, right?

Keith Flint: Tomorrow, yeah.

AB: Is that hard to prepare for?

KF: Oh no, not at all. I don’t prepare for nothing. I just grab my stuff and if I’ve forgotten anything, it stays here. I’m just taking me stride, really. The only thing I do is try to stay fit for the gigs, you know, so I can party a bit and still do my shows without anyone down [indecipherable] and shoddy. That’s what I do, really.

AB: Are tours pretty wild with The Prodigy?

KF: Oh, sometimes. Yeah, in 15 years, you know, there’s been proper madness, in its time, you know.

AB: You’ve got a hell of a stage presence, too.

KF: Aww, thanks, that’s really cool. It’s easy when the shows are good and the people are there, really, I find it quite easy. It’s fuckin’ what I do. [indecipherable]

AB: So The Prodigy started at a rave called Raindance, right?

KF: Oh yeah. Well, we started at Labyrinth [another London rave], to tell you the truth. Raindance was one of the first – a big outdoor event. We loved it. It was mega. We were from that scene, and there every week. Times like that are priceless, but times like that are gone – too much police.

AB: Are raves still big in London?

KF: No, not at all. If I wanted to go this weekend, I wouldn’t know where or when or how. For me, that was the ultimate defining scene, so I find it hard to find that bub again for myself. [indecipherable] We were so lawless when we were goin’ out, so really we were doing something out there. But now it’s like a big nightclub in a field.

AB: That’s interesting. So how do you guys create songs? For the last album, Liam presented it to you and Maxim pretty complete, is that right?

KF: Yeah, we were on the inny and [completely bloody indecipherable]. We knew what it was sounding like, what direction it was going in. We had our parts to play when the stage came along, and we were so waiting to get out there and start doing the shows again. We were just so proud of it.

AB: Do you have a favorite Prodigy song to perform?

KF: “Spitfire” – that slams. That just lights up the place anyway. It’s like nothing else. I love it. Mega.

AB: You guys have been together for 15 years. When was the moment when you thought, “We’ve made it!”?

KF: Oh, we haven’t reached that moment yet.

AB: Come on, really?

KF: Well, I mean, the band started getting bigger, and we didn’t owe money anymore, and we were makin’ money. I thought we’d made it when we walked onstage at Raindance – months before, I’d went and bought a ticket for it, then there I was onstage. We’re aware of what we do, what we do well, and what’s happening, but it’s not something we really think about.

AB: Are you excited about the release of your singles record, Their Law?

KF: Yeah, you know, it’s doing really well for us. We’re happy. [indecipherable] We made it as good as we possibly could, and it worked out this way. We’re looking forward to the next album. We’re hungry for it and it’s going to be best as we can do, and what The Prodigy is known for. Just beats, high-energy music that’s got an attitude, and venom.

AB: It seems like in America, anyway, dance music is evolving more popularly to DJs now. So what do you think about the rise of DJs performing live?

KF: To each their own, you know. They might be enjoying themselves, but the scene won’t survive on DJs alone. You’ve gotta have people’s faces, people carrying it with attitude. DJs just play someone else’s records, and that’s it. They’re respected and the kids love them, so who am I to say they shouldn’t, but-. We need bands. Kids with fire.

AB: Right. Going back in the past a little, you guys signed to Madonna’s label [Maverick] and then refused to remix her song. That’s so punk.

KF: (laughs) Oh, I don’t know about that, but we’ll never do anything we can’t stand by if it doesn’t feel like the right thing at the time, whether it’s a paycheck or someone’s name attached to it. If it ain’t The Prodigy, they get rebuffed when they try that.

AB: Anything else you’d like to say?

KF: Oh- just that we’re coming to rock it, and bring the venom. Bring the energy and we’ll be there. And I look forward to it, you know. I really do.

Stacey Anderson is a journalism and Music senior and KCPR DJ. Catch her Sundays, 7-8 p.m., and Thursdays, 3-5 p.m., on 91.3 FM or e-mail her at standers@calpoly.edu.

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